Tyler Raber of El Macero, California was crowned the 47th Pacific Coast Amateur champion in wire-to-wire fashion at the storied Capilano Golf and Country Club in West Vancouver, British Columbia.
After opening with rounds of 63-67-70, the University of California Davis Aggies Men’s Golf team alum was able to stave off his back-seat competitors with a respectable two-over-par 72 final round on a difficult course layout to be crowned Pacific Coast Amateur champion.
Raber started off his round in clean fashion, making pars on his first two holes before birdying the par 5, 481-yard 3rd hole for the fourth straight day. He would make all pars on holes four through six before carding a bogey-five blemish on the tight 440-yard par 4 seventh.
Raber shook it off, making the turn in even-par 36, heading into the back nine in impeccable shape to hold on for his victory. He would make an even stronger case for being a dominant champion with a birdie on the incredibly difficult dog-leg left par 4 10th hole that ranked third toughest throughout the week.
After making a string of three pars on holes 11-13, Raber would slip up by bogeying three of his next four holes to get it to +2 on the day with a single hole remaining. After hitting his approach shot on the par-5 525 yard 18th just short of the green in three and putting his chip shot long, Raber left himself an eight foot par putt to seal his victory.
He calmly walked up and knocked the winning putt in the center of the hole, etching his name next to PGA Tour winners Billy Mayfair (1987, 1988) and Ben Crane (1998) as well as James Lepp who won the last Pacific Coast Amateur hosted by Capilano Golf and Country Club in 2003. His four round line of 63-67-70-72-272 total was good enough for -8 overall.
After accepting the Ed Updegraff trophy as individual champion and joining the ranks of the aforementioned successful tour players, Raber was all smiles.
“Its pretty cool. There are a lot of good names on there.”
“It feels pretty good to be able to put my name on the same trophy as a lot of those guys.”
Asked how he was able to hang on to the cushion he built himself after his opening seven-under-par 63, Raber was honest about his strategy.
“When you play that well, it feels nice to be able to look at the leaderboard and go ‘okay I beat by the field today by a couple’ but to do it in the first round, you still have to remember that there are three rounds to go, most of the tournament still to go.”
“So it is kind of hard to stay in the moment and remember that there is a lot of golf to play and you never know what’s going to happen or who might catch you. Thankfully I just kept doing my thing and trying to play the best golf I could and it all worked out.”
Raber is no stranger to victory, having won the 2012 Trans-Mississippi championship and the 2010 Stockton Sports Commission Invitational while at UC-Davis, experience he credits with assisting him to his victory in West Vancouver.
“It was a big help. I played a lot of good tournaments at UC Davis. We were thankful to have a very good travel schedule and play some of the better teams in the country every time we went somewhere.”
“I have had a lot of experience with big tournaments, big fields and playing against a lot of good players. That experience definitely helped me out this week.”
Playing alongside Raber and trying to catch him was eventual runner-up Cory McElyea of Santa Cruz, California. McElyea, a winner of the two-day Morse Cup competition as a member of the Northern California Golf Association representative team, couldn’t get anything going in his final round.
McElyea would make a single bogey (6th) followed up by a single birdie (7th) today, unable to make up the ground that Raber afforded himself through 54-holes. McElyea would post rounds of 68-66-71-70-275 to finish -5, three strokes behind Raber’s victorious pace.
Finishing tied in third place at -4 was Chatsworth, California’s Jonathan Sanders and San Diego, California’s Eric Sugimoto. Sugimoto, a promising junior with the University of the Pacific Men’s Golf team, fired consistent rounds of 68-69-69-70 over the four days of competition while Sanders, a sophomore on the dominant University of Washington Huskies Men’s Golf team, scored the days lowest round with a four-under-par 66 to jump up the leader board. His four-day line of 72-68-70-66-276 proved he has a bright golfing future amongst some of North America’s most talented individuals.
Defending champion David Fink of Corvallis, Oregon eagled his final hole in front of close to 100 onlookers to prove his 2012 win and close contention this week was no fluke. He would post scores of 70-67-70-71 to finish tied for fifth with fellow Oregonian Hans Reimers of Albany (69-75-67-67) and San Diego’s Zander Schauffele (71-68-70-69) at -2.
On a day that featured nail-biting suspense by the lead groups, highlights of the round and tournament came from groups well back in the field. Two holes-in-ones were carded on hole nine by Corvallis, Oregon’s Brian Jung and Moorpark, California’s Thomas Lim. Both players were able to reach the bottom of the cup in one stroke on the difficult uphill 175-yard par 3 that forces precision due to guarding bunkers and treacherous green speeds.
Another highlight came on the 18th hole from the Presidential Invite Taylor Montgomery of Henderson, Nevada on his closing hole of the Championship. After blocking his second shot onto the second floor outdoor patio, Montgomery navigated the patrons eating their lunch to hit a flop shot wedge over the hand railing and into a nasty lie beside the green. He would make a thrilling pitch shot that nearly trickled into the cup, settling for a miraculous par that brought a smile to his face and a raucous cheer from the crowd of onlookers.
Lastly, a perennial challenger in the event from Las Vegas, Nevada was Brady Exber. Exber, playing in his 23rd Pacific Coast Amateur Championship, placed in a tie for 17th at +4 after rounds of 71-70-73-70-284, showing he can still compete with the young talent coming up the amateur ranks
The Pacific Coast Golf Association would like to thank the Capilano Golf and Country Club members and management staff for a fantastic week and a perfectly manicured golf course. The state of the golf course was something not overlooked by the overall champion Raber who had nothing but praise for the historic West Vancouver venue following the closing ceremonies.
‘The course was awesome, I had a lot of fun up here. I heard a lot of good things about Capilano before I came up here this week and it definitely did not disappoint.”
The 48th Pacific Coast Amateur will head to Flagstaff, Arizona from July 22-25th, 2014 to the Pine Canyon Golf Club.
Final scoring can be found at www.pacificcoastamateur.com.
ABOUT THE PACIFIC COAST AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
Although its present history dates only from 1967, the Pacific Coast Amateur Championship’s roots make it one of the oldest amateur golfchampionships in American history. The first tournament was held on the links of San Francisco Golf Club at The Presidio, April 24-27,1901. Championships were held annually through 1911, all being conducted in California except for the 1909 championship, which was held atSeattle Golf Club in Washington. The Pacific Coast Amateur then ceased to exist, only to be reconstituted at Seattle Golf Club on August10-12, 1967 with the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Southern California, Oregon and Arizona golf associations participating.Today, 16 member Pacific Rim golf associations comprise the Pacific Coast Golf Association. For more information visit www.pacificcoastamateur.com.